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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tender to Akaroa
BY EDOUARD L GARCIA

Suddenly, we woke up to hand sanitizers greeting us on our way to the elevators. Also, every entrance and exit to all restaurants on board the MS NOORDAM was blocked by smiling staff all holding hand sanitizers. There were crew members nonstop wiping the door handles, elevator buttons, toilets and rails leading to the food area with decontaminants.

Yes, I was riding the crest of the Covid-19 pandemic and hardly noticing the dangers it would bring.

But God is so good! HE had already covered me with His protective mantle by giving me a complete bodyguard-shield with the best of intentions. Perhaps also, I have always been blessed with the good karma that my father has earned from all his good deeds as a true island doctor. I remember the patients lining up that would fill his day from 9 in the morning ‘til 6 at night. If his patients didn’t have money, Mamá would give them free medicine samples and set them on their way.

You see, God is not blind. When you perform good work, it goes down to generations of your family, one cannot imagine. I remember friends would ask my parents why they keep on doing good, opening our home to strangers, and breaking bread with them. And so, being the beloved, I may constantly be in danger and yet, circumstances appear that I am assisted by Divine Providence.

This time, it manifested itself from love of another, a constant protection in the person of my Norwegian love, who made sure that I was always aware of the safety protocols onboard the cruise. I had all the pitfalls waiting for me, but he persevered - making sure I was not distracted by the different ploys to get me in contact with the other passengers. Pål saw to it that I would enjoy staying in our deluxe suite and if ever we went out for dinner, straight after the floorshow and the comedy bars, we would head back to our cabin, avoid the silly theme parties and relax to the sound of the breeze and waves from our private verandah.

While the world was gasping on the pandemic’s purge in Europe after China, we were now on our way to Wellington and Akaroa, New Zealand. I felt doubly blessed that there was not a single case of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand, so I was able to go down the ship assured of a healthy environment.

The small alleys in downtown Wellington reminded me of the hilly side streets in Hong Kong and I plunged into my first fish and chips while watching the busy office workers go back to their daily grind. We easily got bored with the city and decided to go back to the ship to enjoy some ice cream and cake. Akaroa didn’t offer much either, although I loved its rolling hills and vales, the typical English cottages with their colourful gardens. Besides the port area that was shorter than the dock of Lakawon Island serviced by our ship’s tenders, a row of souvenir stores selling New Zealand Manuka honey and travel necessities were about all that was on sale. There was a bus tour to Churchill but Pål and I were really enjoying the ship’s amenities when most of the passengers were away. It’s often overlooked by clients that a cruise is not primarily sightseeing but really to enjoy being onboard a luxury liner!

Home entertainment tip. Discover my Parisian world by watching the iconic floorshow of Lido de Paris nightclub on YouTube. Look for the show’s title “Bonheur” and lavish on an hour and a half of pure entertainment with lots of BBB’s (Bare Butts and Breasts} and discover why the French always considered the naked body a work of art. I was privileged to have been given a VIP tour of the whole place before the jam-packed crowd got in and even bagged a private kiosk table this last time around. Of course, it was my first date on the town with Pål and was he impressed!*

My prayer. I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

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